Power Substations Sabotaged On Christmas
Power Substations Sabotaged On Christmas
Even though a good portion of the country is going through some extreme weather right now along the eastern seaboard, some Washington state residents woke up on Christmas morning to find that they were without power as well. Why? Well, the western part of Washington state did see severe cold weather this last week, but the power outage had nothing to do with that.
Three power substations in western Washington were vandalized in a way that sabotaged the power for thousands on Christmas morning.
The first substation, located in Spanaway, Washington, and belonging to Tacoma Public Utilities, was attacked around 5:30 a.m. local time, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. Nothing was stolen, but equipment was vandalized, leading to outages in the area, police said.”
A second nearby TPU substation was also vandalized, police said.”
A substation belonging to Puget Sound Energy was also vandalized sometime in the early morning, police said. Power went around 2:30 a.m. local time. Police were notified around 11:30 a.m., and when they arrived on the scene, they found “the fenced area was broken into and the equipment vandalized,” similar to the other two substations.”
No suspects are in custody and it was not immediately clear if all three substations were vandalized by the same person or people or if the attacks are related.”
As of 5:30 p.m. local time, Tacoma Public Utilities said that only about 900 of the 7,300 customers who lost power were still in the dark.”
And this wasn’t just “oh, someone went in and pulled a few plugs” kind of vandalism.
1/2 The impacts to our system from today's deliberate damage are more severe in some places than initial testing indicated. Some customers will be restored closer to 8 AM tomorrow. We appreciate your patience as we respond to this intentional vandalism to our system.
— Tacoma Public Utilities (@MyTPU) December 26, 2022
Fortunately, the weather has warmed up considerably in the area, but people will still be in the dark and the cold (though not freezing) until sometime today. And note that “no suspects are in custody.” Earlier this month, two substations were attacked in North Carolina by gunfire and people were without power for days. On Thanksgiving Day, a power substation in Oregon had a break-in that could have resulted in an outage, but didn’t.
Residents in Clackamas County, Oregon were lucky to leave unscathed and with the lights on after a recent attack of their own.”
“Early on Thanksgiving morning, we did have an attack on one of our substations in Clackamas, Oregon,” said Doug Johnson, Senior Spokesperson, Bonneville Power Administration. “It was deliberate– there’s no question that somebody meant to do it. It looked like they used something sharp to cut through a fence there that’s designed to keep people out.”
Two other substations in Washington state also reported attempts to break-in during late November as well. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have both been on the alert for these types of attacks, but they seem to be focused on only one potential explanation, if you read DHS’s initial release from January 27, 2021. In Seattle, one local outlet was happy to find an “independent journalist” who was willing to blame the “extreme right wing.”
To further understand what might be the potential motive for such attacks on the power grid, we spoke with a journalist who has spent years researching and reporting on the actions of extremist groups.”
“The trope of attacking power infrastructure– of hitting the electrical grid, critical infrastructure — is an old tenet of the American extreme right wing,” said Ali Winston, an independent journalist.”
And the left has never done anything malicious or destructive while trying to achieve its goals, hmmm? With no suspects, there should be no assumptions. The ecoterrorist left is just as capable of coordinating attacks on the power grid as anyone else.
The real question is not who is behind this, though investigators better take all their leads seriously, not just their preconceived favorite ones. The real question is, why aren’t these power substations better protected? Where are the security cameras to track and record intruders? What kind of alarm systems are at these substations that it takes hours to discover that actual sabotage has taken place? With recent attacks in three different states, what is the federal government trying to do to shore up and protect the country’s power grid? These are just a handful of attacks. Imagine what destructiveness and panic a larger and truly organized group could trigger if they tried. And given that there have been attempts on Thanksgiving and now an attack on Christmas Day, I’d say whoever is behind this sabotage likes targeting big holidays. And guess what – we’ve got New Year’s coming around the corner. Anyone want to lay odds on another attack happening in less than a week?
Of course, until something truly disastrous that affects more than a few substations in Washington state and a couple in North Carolina happens, the federal government won’t work on preventing attacks, only responding to them. Yes, it is crucial that those responsible are found and held to account. But it’s even more crucial to protect the power grid not just from cyber attacks, but from physical attacks. And looking at the disaster that was the baby formula shortage, it takes a lot of voices yelling all at once before the federal government can be bothered to get up and try to patch together a solution. Let’s hope that it doesn’t take a complete disaster to shore up the protection of one of our most essential infrastructure pieces.
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